Letters to the editor

(Aug. 26)

We can avoid

teachers strike

I have been teaching high school English in Arlington for eight years and love it. Shortly after moving from Seattle to begin my teaching career here, I heard from colleagues about how supportive this community is. After working here, teaching hundreds of students and interacting with scores of parents, I believe that is the case.

This year Arlington teachers are in contract negotiations, which have sunk to a new low, with the district hiring an outside lawyer whose aggressive tactics have stalled productivity at the bargaining table, funded by your tax dollars. District administration is refusing to consider any salary adjustment beyond 3.1 percent and is dragging its feet on hiring more teachers to reduce class size.

This is occurring when the district knows it will have more than $8 million in surplus and is about to receive millions from the multi-billion dollar McCleary decision monies, which state legislators and state schools chief Chris Reykdahl have stated are earmarked to adjust teacher salaries, which have lagged behind our colleagues in other states for years.

We are not asking Arlington taxpayers to pay for our salary adjustment and hire more teachers. We are asking them to demand that Arlington Public Schools use the McCleary monies provided by the state for their intended purpose.

Many districts have negotiated salary adjustments of up to 20 percent, allowing their teachers to see a viable future in public education, as well as smaller class sizes. I am facing a packed classroom of up to 30 students, and it is extremely challenging to: create a consistently safe, productive, and positive environment for all my students, build the individual rapport required for their success, and intervene effectively with every struggling English student who needs it.

This is why it is imperative that APS takes steps to reduce class sizes, beginning with K-3. But with behavior like this from administrators at the bargaining table, my colleagues and I are feeling disrespected, and I believe this creates a negative message about Arlington students as well.

So I’m asking your readers to contact the school board and urge them to give Arlington teachers a salary adjustment and to reduce class size. Ninety-plus percent of our union members have voted to strike if the district continues to withhold state-mandated funds, but we believe we can avoid this.

Jason Ford Bellingham

Glad for uniforms

The fact that the high school band is getting new uniforms for marching is exciting news.

I am a senior this school year and have been in band since sixth grade. When I got to the high school the uniforms were in really bad shape, and over the next two years it only got worse. I was stuck wearing a uniform that was too small, the pants were too short, and the jacket would dig into my armpits and rub them raw.

Also, the rain jackets have mold stains and are even worse smelling than the uniforms. And living in Washington, rain jackets are a necessity.

This is way overdue, and I am glad that I get to see the school get new uniforms. I’m so thankful that the community donated their money so that we can have new uniforms. It really means a lot to the band.

Andrew Chase, Arlington